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Illinois Highway To Be Named After Barack Obama

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Passing a budget wasn’t the only thing Illinois lawmakers did last week. They also named a major road after former president Barack Obama. 

Anyone who’s ever listened to a Chicago traffic report knows the names — Edens, Eisenhower, Stevenson, Ryan.

Now, an addition: the Barack Obama Presidential Expressway.

That’s the official designation for Interstate 55, from 294 in the Chicago suburbs south to mile marker 202, near the city of Pontiac.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, said it’s a route the former state-senator would be familiar with.

“President Obama traveled 55 on his way to Springfield."

The I-55 designation beat a competing proposal to rename all of 294 after Obama — that's the Tri-State Tollway.

The Illinois Department of Transportation doesn’t yet have a timeline for when it'll put up signage.

Rep. Ford said Obama won’t have the highway to himself.

“Paul Simon also has some dedications on the road. And we also have Stevenson, which has some dedications on 55."

The Stevenson is what 55 is called in the Chicago area. The Paul Simon Freeway covers the last part of the interstate before it crosses the Mississippi River heading for St. Louis.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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